Procedure : 2006/2277(INI)
Document stages in plenary
Document selected : A6-0075/2007

Texts tabled :


Debates :

PV 26/04/2007 - 5
CRE 26/04/2007 - 5

Votes :

PV 26/04/2007 - 8.4
Explanations of votes

Texts adopted :


PDF 136kWORD 75k
PE 382.510v04-00 A6-0075/2007

on the situation of women with disabilities in the European Union


Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality

Rapporteur: Esther Herranz García



on the situation of women with disabilities in the European Union


The European Parliament,

–   having regard to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 13 December 2006,

–   having regard to the Manifesto of Disabled Women in Europe which was adopted on 22 February 1997 by the European Disability Forum,

–   having regard to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights(1),

–   having regard to European Year of Equal Opportunities for All (2007),

–   having regard to Article 13 of the Treaty on European Union,

–   having regard to the Commission Communication entitled 'Equal Opportunities for People with Disabilities: a European Action Plan' (COM(2003)0650),

–   having regard to Rule 45 of its Rules of Procedure,

–   having regard to the report of the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality (A6‑0075/2007),

A. whereas in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities it is recognised that women and girls with disabilities are often at greater risk, both within and outside the home, of violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation,

B.  whereas the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities also emphasises the need to incorporate a gender perspective in all efforts to promote the full enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms by persons with disabilities,

C. whereas the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities recognises the right of all persons with disabilities, and who are of marriageable age, to marry and to start a family,

D. whereas nearly 80 per cent of women with disabilities are victims of psychological and physical violence and whereas the risk of sexual violence is greater for them than for other women; whereas violence is not only a common feature of the lives of women with disabilities but is also sometimes the actual cause of their disability,

E.  whereas persons with disabilities constitute a diverse population group, and actions designed to support them must take into account both this diversity and the fact that some groups, such as women with disabilities, face additional difficulties and multiple discrimination,

F.  whereas, according to research carried out by the Member States, it is mothers in particular who take the steps (medical, educational, administrative, etc.) aimed at finding out about their child’s disability and finding the best solutions for tackling it,

G. whereas the responsibility for disabled and dependent persons is usually taken on by women and this means, in certain cases where there are no appropriate reception facilities, that they must leave the labour market,

H. whereas both the EU institutions and the Member States' central and regional authorities should take action designed to ensure that equality for all is something genuine and effective, and whereas the Year of Equal Opportunities for All should serve as a catalyst for this,

I.   whereas women with disabilities suffer multiple discrimination on the grounds of sex, gender, race, impairment and disability and are more at risk from poverty and social exclusion,

J.   whereas equal treatment of women with disabilities and mothers of children with disabilities is a fundamental human right and an ethical obligation,

1.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to ensure the removal of existing barriers and obstacles, including architectural barriers, with a view to creating equal rights and opportunities for women and girls with disabilities to play a part in family, political, cultural, social and professional life, particularly through better implementation of Community anti-discrimination and gender-equality legislation and better use of the opportunities provided by relevant Community programmes and the ESF;

2.  Calls on Member States to take full account of the needs of persons with disabilities and the special needs of women in all national, regional and local policies, particularly those covering town planning, education, employment, housing, transport, health and social services;

3.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to adopt and implement the necessary measures to support women with disabilities so that they may progress in those areas of social life and the world of work, culture and politics in which they are still underrepresented;

4.  Calls on the national and regional governments to promote and fund, with adequate resources, innovative policies and services on the basis of gender and disability, in particular regarding personal assistance, mobility, health, education, training, lifelong learning, employment, independent living and social security;

5.  Calls on the Commission and the Member States to put in place effective legislation and policies focusing on women and children, which will ensure that instances of exploitation, violence and sexual abuse against persons with disabilities - within their places of residence and elsewhere - are identified and investigated and, where appropriate, lead to prosecution; suggests that, in that context, particular attention be paid to women with disabilities whose disability prevents them from representing themselves;

6.  Is shocked at the fact that women with disabilities are three times as likely to be the victims of violence as women without disabilities, and calls therefore for the Daphne Programme also to be used to combat this type of violence;

7.  Emphasises the importance of actively combating segregation of people with disabilities from childhood onwards;

8.  Calls on the Commission and Member States to promote pilot schemes and tried and tested procedures for integrative establishments from kindergarten, school and training to professional life;

9.  Stresses the need for the European Union to take all possible steps, including legislative action, to streamline the aid system and make more funding available for women and children with disabilities;

10. Calls on Member States to address the lack of adequate health care for women with disabilities by providing specialist medical staff and appropriate infrastructures;

11. Calls on the Commission, in conjunction with the competent national authorities, to investigate the particular health and medical care problems suffered by women with disabilities, focusing on care and information;

12. Considers there to be a relationship between having a disability and the lower level of educational achievement which subsequently affects employment rates amongst disabled people;

13. Expresses its concern at the fact that women with disabilities have lower levels of educational achievement, which makes it more difficult for them to gain access to, stay in and be promoted in the labour market; considers that people with disabilities must be given the same opportunities to study and must have the right of access to the labour market so that they can support themselves; considers that women and girls with disabilities should be encouraged to seek education and employment on the basis of their resources and interests rather than of what they are lacking;

14. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to foster implementation of the principle of universal accessibility in society, goods and services, so that women with disabilities may enjoy as much autonomy as possible;

15. Calls on the Commission and the Member States, since in many situations ITC facilities are a fundamental instrument for the integration of persons with a disability, to draw up appropriate measures to eliminate the digital gap caused by gender, so that women with disabilities may have access to ITC facilities and benefit from them under equal conditions with men;

16. Believes that, with a view to improving access to the labour market for persons with disabilities and enabling them to become more active and develop their abilities, use should be made of all possible incentive measures, including tax breaks, to encourage employers to take on persons with disabilities and tailor working hours to the needs of parents bringing up children with disabilities;

17. Calls on the Commission and Member States, in their efforts to increase employment of women with disabilities, to prevent discrimination by employers in connection with the appointment of women with disabilities;

18. Calls on the Commission and Member States to incorporate the concept of 'flexibility' into matters relating to disability in recognition of the fact that each disabled person has different needs, in order that, in a community of citizens based on diversity, assistance can be tailored to each individual situation;

19. Considers that the measures created should be geared towards greater integration;

20. Points out that it is women who, in most cases, care for people with disabilities, and hence considers it necessary to develop measures to raise social awareness in order to ensure that men too are involved in this task;

21. Calls upon the Commission and the Member States to seek to make responsibility for the care and participation of people with disabilities the responsibility of society as a whole rather than that only of the families of persons with disabilities and to take into account, when devising policies, the particular dedication of women who are responsible for persons with disabilities and the situation of those persons – often relatives – who take responsibility for persons with disabilities; considers it important to highlight the fact that this work is mainly done by women and that women are therefore particularly affected by cuts in public care services, both as paid carers and as relatives;

22. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to draw up the necessary measures to assist the work of families and organisations that support both people with disabilities and their families;

23. Considers that various support measures must be proposed so that both people with disabilities and their families can live normal lives on the same terms as people without disabilities and their families, as well as support measures for those - often relatives - who take economic and social responsibility for people with disabilities, who in many cases require total dedication, which isolates them and necessitates support at many levels; notes that, as things currently stand, women bear a large share of such responsibilities, both paid and unpaid; considers it self-evident that this is not a task primarily for one sex or the other and that the view that this is a responsibility for women should be actively combated;

24. Proposes that Member States should harmonise municipal regulations governing parking for the disabled and consider whether to reduce transport fares for those who accompany disabled persons;

25. Considers that one of the main objectives which the European Union should set itself is to improve the quality of life of disabled people and their families and ensure that they are fully integrated into society;

26. Stresses the need to raise the profile and improve the image of women with disabilities in the media, which will make the broad public more aware of their daily lives and give them greater opportunities to express themselves and take part in social and political life;

27. Stresses how important it is for Member States to recognise the self-evident right of women with disabilities to their own sexuality and their right to start a family;

28. Calls on the Commission and the Member States to put in place legislation ensuring independent living for disabled women and men, acknowledging that this is a fundamental right that must be respected;

29. Calls on the Commission and Member States to give children, young people and adults with disabilities the preconditions for independence and self-determination and, in so doing, to devote special attention to equality issues;

30. Recognises that even in relation to existing independent-living services and health services disabled women experience discrimination in access;

31. Highlights the role played by the education of children of both sexes in the building of the society of the future, and stresses that efforts must be made in order to gear it towards ensuring that disability is not an obstacle to their playing a part in society on the basis of the same rights and opportunities, with a view to fostering a framework for cooperation, integration and disability awareness-raising at school, the latter being an indispensable tool for making this a reality;

32. Stresses the important role of non-governmental organisations working with disabled women and calls on the Commission and the Member States to support them;

33. Stresses the need for recent data broken down by gender to be gathered on the subject of disability and for research to be carried out using gender equality indicators in order to discover the real situation of women and girls with disabilities;

34. Stresses the need to ensure care for the reproductive health of women with disabilities, paying attention to aspects such as family planning, health services and information about motherhood, so that they may be able to establish relationships that are equitable, responsible and satisfying;

35. Takes the view that EU policy should give employers' organisations, trade unions and non-governmental organisations greater encouragement to devise more effective means of assisting persons with disabilities;

36. Calls on the Commission to facilitate the creation of a network for disabled women across the European Union and in candidate countries, allowing for the exchange of best practices, capacity-building and empowerment;

37. Highlights the need for women with disabilities to enjoy free access to the new audiovisual media;

38. Reminds the Commission that thorough knowledge of this matter and of the 'social model of disability' which focuses on society’s barriers, as opposed to the 'medical model of disability' which deals only with the medical aspects of disability, is the proper basis for providing solutions, services and support, for devising policies, for assigning resources and for measuring the impact of policies on the situation of persons with disabilities;

39. Reminds the Member States that their collaboration in advancing and improving the situation of women and girls suffering from any kind of disability is of fundamental importance;

40. Calls on the Member States to promote citizens’ initiatives aimed at supporting those with disabilities;

41. Recalls the importance of the social partners, business and civil society, and in particular organisations of women and of parents of children with disabilities, in promoting and furthering equal opportunities, access to employment and lifelong training for people with disabilities that has due regard for special needs;

42. Pays homage to the work of parents’ associations, usually created and run by the mothers of children with disabilities, who via their organisations and Internet sites compile information (on specialised medical centres and regulations on education, social security, etc.) thereby helping other parents and raising the awareness of the public authorities;

43. Calls on the Member States to report to the Commission and Parliament on the situation of women and girls with disabilities on the basis of their country reports and on the measures which they have taken to comply with the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women;

44. Considers that disabilities should be regarded as a natural phenomenon, which is part of everyday life, and not as a deviant appendage to it; notes that there will always be citizens with disabilities and that it is therefore self-evident that disabilities are an integral part of society;

45. Ought itself to promote greater development and exploitation of technology and facilities to eliminate disabling environments; considers that development work should be based on the fact that men and women sometimes have different needs;

46. Calls on the Commission and Member States to promote equality of living conditions for girls and boys, women and men with disabilities;

47. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Council of Europe and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.


OJ C 364, 18.12.2000, p. 1.


Within the European Union there are a significant number of persons with disability who in their everyday life encounter difficulties of varying kinds and who are not always able to exercise their rights to the full.

Hence there is a most pressing need not only to make society aware of the difficulties encountered by women with disabilities but also for action to be taken which will enable the disabled to be integrated to a greater extent into society, increased resources to be allocated to the removal of physical and social barriers, and discrimination of any kind against disabled people at work to be outlawed.

The purpose of this report is to express the broadest possible support for the demands and aspirations of disabled people and their families, and also for the essential role played by disabled people's associations in helping such people to enjoy a better quality of life.

In this report an effort has been made to draw attention to the importance of ensuring that people with disabilities are integrated in both social and educational terms from childhood onwards.

By means of this report the Committee on Women's Rights and Gender Equality wishes to raise public awareness of disabled people's right to protection against discrimination and to full and fair enjoyment of their rights; to prompt consideration and discussion of the action which needs to be taken in order to promote equality and the exchange of experience, to extend cooperation amongst all the parties involved, to improve communication regarding disability and to promote a positive image of disabled people; to raise awareness regarding the heterogeneous nature of the forms which disability and discrimination take and to devote particular attention to raising awareness regarding the right of disabled children and young people to equality in education as a means of facilitating and supporting their full integration within society and with a view to furthering the development of cooperation at European level amongst education professionals who work with disabled children and young people, in order to improve the integration of pupils and students with specific needs within ordinary or specialist schools and in exchange programmes at Member-State and EU level.



Situation of women with disabilities in the European Union

Procedure number


Committee responsible
  Date authorisation announced in plenary


Committee(s) asked for opinion(s)
  Date announced in plenary


Not delivering opinion(s)
  Date of decision



Enhanced cooperation
  Date announced in plenary


  Date appointed

Esther Herranz García


Previous rapporteur(s)


Discussed in committee




Date adopted


Result of final vote







Members present for the final vote

Edit Bauer, Emine Bozkurt, Lissy Gröner, Esther Herranz García, Urszula Krupa, Siiri Oviir, Zita Pleštinská, Amalia Sartori, Eva-Britt Svensson, Anna Záborská

Substitute(s) present for the final vote

Corina Creţu, Anna Hedh, Christa Klaß, Marusya Ivanova Lyubcheva

Substitute(s) under Rule 178(2) present for the final vote

Panayiotis Demetriou

Date tabled


(available in one language only)


Legal notice - Privacy policy